Japan Earthquake Update: Emergency Relief Briefing

UPDATE: Due to increased radiation levels, the team is holding off on their departure - Will Update you all in the AM.

12 March 2011

I really don’t know where to start – there has been so much destruction over such a large area.  The death toll is now somewhere near 1000 but with the lack of communication throughout the affected area, this is a number that is sure to increase.  “Tens of thousands are unaccounted for”. The worst hit zone appears to be the port city of Sendai (population > 1M) and much like 2004, the tsunami was more destructive than the earthquake as a 10m wave washed over the city.  26 aftershocks greater than 6.0 have occurred since the 8.9 earthquake and scientists are concerned that many more will occur and there is a fear that another major quake could hit the area much like what occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Police are saying that at least 300,000 people have fled their homes and there have been reports of entire villages being swept away.  Local authorities reported that almost 10,000 people – out of a population of 17,000 – were missing from the fishing port of Minamisanriku, which was engulfed by huge waves that swept inland for six miles.

It will be days – possibly weeks – before we really know the total impact of the earthquake and tsunami.  Rescue and relief teams are coming in from all over the world with the first emphasis on trying to rescue individuals trapped under the rubble or stranded on rooftops.

And to compound the fears of residents, a large explosion occurred today at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan. Officials say the container housing the reactor was not damaged and sea water is being pumped into the reactor to cool it. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the area and BBC is reporting 110,000 people have been moved away from the plant. Another 30,000 have been evacuated from a 10km radius around Fukushima No. 2 plant. But full evacuation measures had not been completed as the government just increased the evacuation zone to 20 km.

As you can imagine, much of the area is without power (6M households) and supplies are short and difficult to come by. We were able to reach Kazu, our in-country veterinary contact late Friday who is very near the impacted area.  He and his daughter have helped IFAW’s efforts in this area before with our work with oil spill response and training.

I received this brief comment from Kazu earlier today, “There is no way to get the site, except maybe hiring helicopter.  Public transportation is not an option, yes cars but no gas stations.  Communications are also limited, only public phones from inside those area are reasonably reliable.”  Kazu has met with the President of the Tokyo Veterinary Association and is working hard to determine animal impact.

There were reports earlier today that zoos and aquaria were impacted but Kazu reports, “Two aquarium was damaged by tsunami.  There are not severe damages with other zoo and aquarium.  Now, Japan Zoo & Wild life Medicine Association has been checking up on there.”

We continue to reach out to government and non-government agencies to determine if there what role if any IFAW can play,  this typically it takes 7-10 days before animal issues are usually addressed so we will try to be as patient as possible but obviously we are quite anxious to be able to join the relief efforts.  Fortunately, IFAW has many good friends in the country..

-- DG

13 March 2011

1700 hr.  I’m sure that everyone is aware of the latest threat in Japan – a meltdown of the nuclear reactor(s).  It has been a day of ups and downs as various “experts” weigh in on the dangers.  But the latest at this hour is that the possibility of a massive radiation exposure remains (reasonably) low.  They continue to flood the reactors with saltwater in an attempt to cool them and the Prime Minister is doing everything he can to allay fear -but the situation is dangerous and we will be watching it closely.

The death toll continues to climb and is now listed at just less than 1600 but many fear that number will reach 10,000.

Power is being restored and many services are slowly come back on line in Tokyo though there are extreme shortages in food, fuel, and critical supplies.  And then there is the constant reminder of the fear of additional aftershocks - "The news is telling us that there is a 70% change of another 7.0 or greater earthquake within three days," said CNN iReporter Gabriel Rodriguez.

Hopefully we will soon be able to provide our own pictures as we have decided to dispatch an assessment team tomorrow and will be comprised of Emergency Relief Manager Dick Green, Emergency Relief Communications Officer Mike Booth, and Emergency Relief Officer Shannon Walajtys. Our immediate goal is to meet with local rescue groups and government officials and to see as much of the impacted area as possible and better determine IFAW’s role in the relief effort.

As we saw most recently in Haiti, major disasters require long-term planning and a concerted effort between NGO and governmental ranks to ensure that the greatest number of animals and humans benefit from the intervention.

I will provide an update once we’re on the ground in Japan sometime in the next 24-36 hours.

- DG

Stay tuned to IFAW.org and IFAW social channels for updates as they come in.

Comments: 46

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Hi Sandra and everyone. Yes, we'll for sure keep you posted and let you know how you can directly help as soon as we can. Many thanks for all of your kind words and support. J.C. - IFAW

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I donate to IFAW and wlll donate for this cause. Thank goodness for people who have a heart for the animals and consider them just as worthy of kindness, safety and assurance. I'm going to hug my cat, yet again and let her know how lucky she is.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I really hope you all can make it there successfully and save as many animals as possible! I seen the footage as well of the 2 dogs (one injured) and the dog refusing to leave the injured one. Its heartbreaking! These poor animals are in desperate need of anyone who can help them...I mean, there must be injured animals all over the place! I wish you the best of luck on this mission. This is an amazing thing that you do for these animals.

Stay safe!!!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I agree with the comments above. I would like to make a donation to help the animals affected by the tsunami in Japan and also money to help people care for their animals while the people are in shelters. Please, let us know if there is a way to get money to this specific cause and I will help get the word out for donations.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I came to the site ready to make a donation specifically to help out the pets in Japan. I'm sorry to see that there is no obvious link for me to donate money specifically for this cause, but even worse, IFAW isn't even there to make a difference! Although I understand the caution with the fears that there may be an actual meltdown, but I just saw an advertisement the other day that IFAW was in Japan, ready to help the animals.

When you do get over there, please let us know. I donate monthly anyway, but I'm ready to make another donation specifically for this cause.

Thank you, and please keep saving animals!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Hi I am writing from Italy . On a newspaper on-line (please find below the link) I found the news about two rescued dog in the city of Mito. The images are very touching. One dog was refusing to leave alone the other dog ill. The journalist wrote as the comments are in Japanese that both of them have been rescued. I was wondering if it was true and maybe you knew about it any other information... I am aware that this little thing is a drop in the ocean of such a disaster, and might seem stupid ... sorry in advance for this.
Thanks for your work and all the news I could find on your site
http://tv.repubblica.it/copertina/il-cane-che-si-...

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I just saw really tragic movie of a dog in Japan that is sitting with another dog that at first, looks dead, but this spaniel runs back to its friend and you can see it lift its head, but it has clearly been injured or severely shocked. I wish I could fly out there to help those innocent animals that are also victims of this terrible tragedy that has claimed the lives of so many. I do hope that people are doing what they can to help the animals as well as the people. My heart and prayers goes out to you all.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

If you are posting your organization on major news website like MSNBC to help the animals in Japan, the least you could do is have relevant videos of the animals that you apparently asking money for. the videos you have posted of Japan are all over the news, are several days old, and anyone who has watched any amount of news covering this horrible tragedy would have sen these videos. Not sure how these re-posting of other news agency videos has to do with you request for money to save the animals. If it is the nuclear disaster that you are afraid of and the reason why you have not made it to the Japan area yet, there are areas that show much need that have been struck by the 9.0 earthquake. In these areas I am sure there are animals that need your help and the chance of getting a minimal, moderate, or even low dose of radiation, according to the experts is very low. If you are asking for money by putting your organization on these website, darn it get over to the area you are asking money for and do what you do. If you are not going to help i Japan, take your name off of these news websites and wherever you have posted your agencies name asking for donations, until you have decided to go and do something to help the animals.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

When it's safe, I am glad you're sending people.

The media is starting to show the animal victims: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3TM9GL2iLI&fe...

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Our thoughts and prayers are with you,

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